2007 Roadtrip Lima Perú: Our Month There

Many travel sites recommend spending only a day in Lima. We think that is bad advice. We had a great time during our month stay in Lima. The downtown historical area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and well worth a Lima Visions tour.
On the Plaza Mayor with the Lima Visions Tour. In the background is the Presidential Palace


There are great museums and world class restaurants at a fraction of the prices in first world cities. We also did some shopping to replace old clothes at the end of summer sales. At least three days in Lima should be recommended so that a visitor can sample the restaurants and the city at a leisurely pace. We added comments to the Restaurant section of the Living in Peru website, using the nickname “aledm”.See the Living in Peru website, it's great! Click here to go to the Living in Peru website
We gave a 9/10 rating to:
· Astrid y Gastón (de Astrid Gutsche y Gastón Acurio) –9.5/10 rating, actually
· El Ancla –8.5 rating, actually
· Fusión (de Rafael Piqueras)
· Rafael (de Rafael Osterling Letts)
· Rodrigo (de Rodrigo Conroy)
We also thought that Huaca Pucllana was a great place for tourists, particularly if there is a dance performance scheduled. It’s a beautiful place, with the ruins lit at night and we had a very good meal there. (General Borgoño, cdra. 8, Huaca Pucllana, Miraflores, 445-4042, web: www.resthuacapucllana.com)
The folkloric dancing at Huanca Pucllana with the ruins in the background


The suburb of Miraflores reminds me of Santa Monica, California. There is a high palisade by the ocean (called a malecón) and a park extends for kilometers. Far below is a 4 lane highway (like Highway 1 in California) and then the beach. Unfortunately, at the sand level, there is no continuous sidewalk and the sand is brownish, like mud. In many places there have been put small black pebbles over the sand (we think to stop erosion). The result is unattractive.
On our first Sunday in Lima we took out our bikes and went for a ride along the palisade in a northerly direction. We were delighted and very surprised to find an actual, marked bikepath, next to the sidewalk.

We're on the Lima bikepath


We went as far as we could, until we were in an ugly neighborhood around Magdalena del Mar, where the palisade park ended and we would have been forced onto inland streets. Our roundtrip was 21km, which we thought was respectable for our first city outing.
On the way back we saw a packed restaurant, called a cebicheria named Punta Sal on the Malecón Cisneros. It has a fabulous view of the sea and the restaurant turns out to be a Lima institution and it looked like the place to be on a Sunday afternoon. We had several different dishes, including a cebiche that was delicious. We were disappointed to learn that Punta Sal is only open for lunch. We were told that people just don’t eat fish for dinner (a habit formed when there was no refrigeration, we guess) so cebicherias don’t have any incentive to stay open at night. As we stayed in Lima we were “forced” to have a larger lunch than we would habitually have. We wanted to try restaurants that were only open for lunch and they were always packed!
Fortunately, Lima also has world class restaurants that are open for dinner. It’s hard to break old habits and for us dinner is a major part of our evening’s entertainment. In most cities, we completely miss the nightlife available because it doesn’t interest us and because we are in bed by 11p.m, after watching a favorite TV series (that Dimitri has recorded on the VCR that we carry in our 11 pieces of luggage).
We had a nice routine in Lima. Every other day we went to the gym on the roof of Sol de Oro to do some treadmill, step or ski machine workouts and then to do some weight machine exercise. Afterwards, we’d use the sauna, steam and then the rooftop Jacuzzi. Each day the service staff heated the Jacuzzi water to our preferred 39° C temperature. This has become a ritual with us in Perú. The Jacuzzis we’ve experienced are kept too cold for us. Fortunately the hotels have been willing to indulge our Jacuzzi temperature preference.
Every Sunday we would take our bikes out for a 35 km/ 22m roundtrip ride to downtown Lima. There is a real, almost continuous, bike path along Av. Salaverry from the park at the palisade in San Isidro. So we go to the palisade park in Miraflores and ride the bike path north along the coast. Then we take a right up Salaverry and take that bike path as far as it went to downtown Lima.
On a Sunday bike ride to downtown Lima we stopped in the Cultural Park

Our destination was always in Barrio Chino/Chinatown for dim sum After trying a few, we have decided the best (where we see the most Asians) is Salon Capon. People have warned us that it is dangerous to ride bicycles in Lima. We’re not sure why because we had no problems the four times we did that ride. There were other people on the bike path and it seemed fine. We park and lock our bikes in a car park near the restaurant.
During our month in Lima we found Polvos Azules and Compuplaza in downtown Lima. We bought stacks of the latest movies for S/.3 each. We bought some software for S/.3 at Compuplaza too. What a bonanza! If our hotel doesn’t have a DVD player we can watch our movies on our computer. No problem.
Before we found Polvos Azules we would record movies off of the cable TV in our hotel rooms. Finding good movies on cable is a very time-consuming task. We have to research the ratings of the films on the IMDB website to see if the rating is over 7/10 (our minimum requirement) and then read the story line in English to make sure it will be interesting. Now that we have a stash of our own movies, can eliminate that daily task. We just record our favorite weekly series shows and watch them at our convenience.
One of our chores in Lima was to get the damage fixed to our car caused by our goat encounter in Argentina. We had stopped at a Subaru dealer in Iquique, Chile and had an estimate but that service center had not inspired confidence. We thought we might wait until our return to Santiago but we stopped by the Lima Subaru dealership on Av. R. de Panama. They gave us an estimate and were very professional and pleasant. They did a beautiful job, finished on time and washed and waxed the car as well. The entire experience was delightful and their service exceeded our expectations. The Argentinean goat caused US$1500 of damage, by the way. To read about the Argentine goat incident, click here.
We were told it doesn’t rain, ever, in Lima. One night it did and that must have been the exception that proves the rule. Instead of rain there is a fog that comes off the ocean and humidifies the air. It’s called a garúa, we understand, when it is actually misty. Many days it’s just foggy.
When we weren’t otherwise occupied, we visited museums. Museo Larco in Pueblo Libre is our favorite.
Those ancient Indians were pretty racy

Museo de la Nación is worth a visit and a tour (at 3 p.m. in English). We also went to the dentist and did other everyday kinds of things. Miraflores, San Isidro and the surrounding areas are easy places to live (if you can get used to the constant sound of car alarms).

We always took taxis around Lima and most rides were under US$4, even to downtown Lima from Miraflores. Many of the taxis are the little Korean cars like in Arequipa, but there are many more comfortable station wagons too. And the price is the same. Most of the cars are old and rickety but not as bad as in Argentina. There are lots of old 1960’s-style VWs too. We learned from a taxi driver that they were made, until recently, in Mexico and brought into Perú.

The traffic is totally undisciplined and there aren’t enough stop or yield signs, traffic lights or other road signs. The way that speed is controlled is by giba/speed bumps—they are at many intersections—and they are very uncomfortable for the passengers. They do slow down the cars though.

Through our dentist, Dr. Wendy Johnson (Av. Libertadores 532, fono: 437-4439), we learned that Lima Tours was promoting an Amazon cruise. Dimitri had been doing lots of research and had not found a cruise that was available and was top end (meaning air conditioned cabins). It turned out that the Lima Tours package was available for our dates and we could combine the Delfín cruise up the Amazon from Iquitos with Amazon Horizons and a top end lodge experience at Ceiba Tops, down the Amazon from Iquitos. By the way, there is a photo of the Delfín in the first installment of our 2007 Perú Travelogue in the LivinginPeru Newsletter dated 1 August, 2007. Off we went for 10 days in the Amazon, leaving our car and bikes locked in the guarded garage of the Sol de Oro. And our excess suitcases were kept for us in the storage room.